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Healthy Snacking

March 25, 2009

As much as we would like to eat only when we’re hungry, sometimes we eat just because the food is there. Sometimes you tell yourself that you’re only going to have one cookie and then before you know it all of the cookies in the cookie jar are gone. Susan Roberts PhD, author of The Instinct Diet, refers to this as the "availability instinct." She says, "having food readily available can trigger hormonal and nervous system activity that makes us hungry—even if we’ve just finished a fancy five-course dinner." She goes on to say that often we’ll overeat even if something doesn’t taste good. Can you relate to this feeling?

Even though many of us may be susceptible to this "availability instinct" there are ways to change this behavior so it does not hurt your health.

Stay hydrated. Oftentimes when we feel the need to snack and snack and snack some more it is because we are thirsty. Before you look to the pantry or refrigerator for comfort drink a tall glass of water.

Relax. Unhealthy eating often happens when we’re stressed out or rushing from one event to another. Sit down and take a minute to do some deep breathing exercises.

Keep fruits and vegetables on hand. If you keep the healthier snack alternatives on the counter you will be less likely to rummage the kitchen for chips or cookies.

Chew. This is an important practice that many Americans forget to do nowadays. When you pick out the snack to eat, sit down and chew. What does it taste like? How does it feel in your mouth?

Of course every now and then you are going to want that cookie or some chips. It’s only natural. But if you are able to apply these steps to your daily routine you will find that snacking can be an enjoyable experience that does contribute to your health.

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.